In 1945, Saint Mary’s Parochial School was founded through a shared vision by a people of faith committed to excellence, responsibility to the community, service and religious values. At the request of Archbishop O’Hara, the Dominican Sisters from Adrian, Michigan agreed to staff the school. The old Lumpkin House, a 100-year-old building situated on Terrace Hill overlooking the Oostanaula River on West 8th Avenue was converted into a school. The school opened on September 17, 1945, with fifty-one students in grades 1-11.
In 1960, the Archdiocese obtained a portion of the Cooper Estate and a small school with eight classrooms, library, kitchen and cafeteria was erected at 401 East 7th Street. The enrollment at that time was 185 students in grades 1-8.
The Dominican Sisters who had served the school since 1945, were forced to withdraw from the school in 1970 because of the many demands on their time and the decline of religious vocations. For one year the staff was served by a lay faculty as the parish worked diligently to secure a new religious order.
In 1971, the Daughters of Charity, based in Emmitsburg, Maryland, were assigned to staff the school. For twenty-two years the Sisters served the school lovingly as enrollment increased and waiting lists developed for most grades. Twenty-six of the Daughters served the school, along with Principals Sister Patricia, Sister Mary Catherine, Sister Kathleen, Sister Miriam and Sister Regina who are remembered fondly by many of Saint Mary’s faculty, parents, and alumni.
Responding to a growing need, 1980 saw the addition of a new wing, which housed a library, gymnasium, music room and two new classrooms. Kindergarten was added and enrollment increased. In 1987, a temporary modular unit was attached to the school allowing three new classrooms to accommodate expanding enrollment.
Again, due to demands on their community, the Daughters of Charity were forced to withdraw from the school in 1993 and Saint Mary’s School was served by a lay principal and staff.
In the fall of 2001, after remarkable efforts by the school community, Saint Mary’s opened a beautiful new building on the existing site. The school is nestled in a residential community and can accommodate over 400 students. The new facility includes a Chapel that serves as a prayerful gathering place, expanded art, music and drama areas, an air-conditioned gymnasium, a media center, computer and foreign language labs, and room for two classes per grade.
Today, SMS enjoys an excellent reputation as it serves several counties in Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama. Saint Mary’s Catholic School serves Protestant students from over 30 local area churches and Catholic students from all regional parishes: St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Rome, St. Clements’s Catholic Church of Calhoun, St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church of Cedartown, and St. Frances’s Catholic Church of Cartersville.